THE PENDULUM FILES by P. M. Terrell
A romantic suspense/political thriller
CIA operative Dylan Maguire joins forces with psychic spy Vicki Boyd to find out who is bombing merchant vessels bound for the United States from China. Their mission will lead them to Black Sites, the high seas and into covert operations. And when an assassin escapes from prison determined to finish the job he started, they find their personal lives and their missions are about to collide in ways they never could have imagined.
Brenda was leaning her head against the window as if asleep and now she began to move her fingers ever so slightly toward the door handle. She kept her eyes on his reflection; he was focused on driving, his eyes locked on the road just as it had been before. Only his right hand was holding the steering wheel now; it had slipped to a three o’clock position.
A slight movement caught her attention; it was so subtle, she almost thought she’d imagined it. Then she spotted the glint of metal across his body, though the road still held his attention. Her fingers locked onto the door handle as the metal rose slightly up and away from his body. He turned his head as his left hand snapped forward.
She jerked the door open as the shot rang out. She felt something sharp and hot against her shin as she kicked herself away from the car. She tumbled onto the pavement before hitting the shoulder, the gravel feeling like a million razors slicing through her flesh. She heard her own voice as if it was disembodied, screaming as she forced herself to roll across the sharp gravel before plummeting down the incline, compelling herself to continue rolling even as she realized she’d been shot in the leg.
She heard the car’s brakes slamming, the tires squealing as the man struggled to bring the car to a stop. At seventy miles an hour, it should have taken the car further from her even as she rushed to escape. But when she came to her feet and looked back at the road, she estimated he was about three hundred feet further down the road—not far enough.
She ran toward the tree line, which now appeared too far away. As a second shot rang out, she knew his sights were set on her back, and she struggled to run straight, fighting the impulse to run opposite of him. It kept her profile smaller but when he shot a third and then fourth time, she could almost feel the bullets whizzing past her.
The third and fourth shots sounded increasingly louder and she knew he was running after her. Her breath was loud and labored, her blood pounding in her temples. Even as she drew closer to the shadows of the trees, she could feel herself slowing down. The adrenaline that propelled her down the slope and to her feet was fighting against the pain in her leg.
She could feel the blood oozing down her shin and pooling in her shoe, causing her to slip and slide along grass already slick with dew. Another shot rang out, whizzing so close to her hair that she thought it had passed through it.
She threw herself into the shadows, pushing herself beyond her leg’s endurance to keep going, to get into the pine forest, weaving and bobbing forward and eastward, away from the car, away from the interstate. Hopefully, away from him.
She wanted to stop; she wanted to pull some article of clothing off herself and wrap it around her shin to keep the blood in, to keep the flesh together, but she didn’t dare hesitate. She heard the branches cracking behind her; he was there and he was closing on her. Even as she propelled herself forward, she knew all he had to do was follow the movement of the branches ahead of him to know exactly where she was.
~Buy THE PENDULUM FILES:
AN INTERVIEW WITH P. M.
-What made you want to write?
I have been drawn to writing since I was a young girl. A school principal suggested that I write short stories, which then became full-length novels. Life often has a way of leading us in other directions, and I found myself in the computer industry in the late 1970’s. I migrated back to writing by 1984, writing computer manuals with provocative titles such as “Creating the Perfect Database”. But it wasn’t until 2002 that my first fiction was published. Fortunately, it did extremely well and it launched a second career for me.
-What draws you to to suspense?
My father was an FBI Agent and one of his assignments was in the Mississippi Delta during a particularly violent time in the state’s history. I believe his work in law enforcement led me to writing crime-related suspense. I began by writing about local or national crime, but through my computer work I began working with agencies operating outside the USA, which eventually helped me with writing the Black Swamp Mysteries series featuring two CIA operatives.
-Name a fun fact you learned researching this project.
Vicki, one of the main characters in the Black Swamp Mysteries series, is a psychic spy. I found several books written by former members of psychic spy programs, and researching how they do their jobs, the side effects and the lifestyles they lead have been truly fascinating to me. I also learned how scientific principles have been merging with psychic phenomenon, which has opened up a whole new way of viewing the world and our place in it.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
I would go out with Vicki, Dylan or Chris any time. Vicki would be a safe friend. Dylan would be fun-loving and attentive. And Chris would be quiet and intense. But I would shy away from bad-girl Brenda. I am one of those gals who like to stay within the lines, and Brenda is forever pushing the envelope to see how far from the norm she can get.
-For aspiring writers, any tips?
Learn as much as you possibly can about the publishing industry. The days of an author writing and someone else handling the rest of the business are long gone. To make it in this industry, you really have to understand it and become as much of a marketer as a writer. If you’re brand new, subscribe to Writer’s Digest and Southern Writers Magazine and comb through Writer’s Market. Keep striving to improve the craft of writing, but also spend as much time learning the other aspects of being a published author, particularly in growing a following and fan base, marketing and promotion.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
I could never write a book that contains sex or violence in minute detail. An author can say the actions are those of a character but in the end, most readers look at the author for better or for worse, in dreaming up the detailed scenes. I’ve read books where I wondered at the sanity of the author because of the vicious and grotesquely perverted acts of violence in their books. And I wouldn’t want to write sex scenes that are so graphic that when I meet my readers, I know they’re undressing me with their imaginations.
I began reading a book in the point of view of a character we were, as readers, supposed to connect with and like. When that male character committed a rape on a young boy, the author expected us to continue to like and identify with him. When I mentioned this to the author, his response was, “It’s art!”
I beg to differ. Sometimes, it’s not art.
ABOUT P. M.
P. M. Terrell is the pen name for Patricia McClelland Terrell, the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 20 books in five genres. A full-time author since 2002, Black Swamp Mysteries is her first series, inspired by the success of Exit 22 in 2008. The books include Exit 22, Vicki's Key, Secrets of a Dangerous Woman, Dylan's Song and The Pendulum Files. Vicki's Key placed as one of four finalists in the 2012 International Book Awards. Her historical book, River Passage, won the 2010 Best Drama Award, and her romantic suspense, The Tempest Murders, placed as one of four finalists in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards.
Prior to becoming a full-time writer, she founded and operated two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. Her specialties were computer crime and computer intelligence and her clients included the CIA, Secret Service and Department of Defense. Computer technology often weaves its way through her contemporary suspense/thrillers.
She is also the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation and the founder of The Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair, an annual event to raise money for literacy campaigns. She also serves on the boards of the Friends of the Robeson County Public Library and the Robeson County Arts Council, and served as the first female president for the Chesterfield County/ Colonial Heights Crime Solvers.
Join me in thanking P. M. for a great interview!
And comment for a chance at a beautiful Celtic cross necklace.
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